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BB names park for Chappie

By Lisa Neff, Islander Reporter

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie and Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt shake hands after the commission voted unanimously to honor Chappie with the naming of John R. Chappie Gulfside Park.

Bradenton Beach commissioners last week recognized a beach-loving former mayor by putting his name on a beachfront park.

A Gulffront parcel at 1402 Gulf Drive N. will be named John R. Chappie Gulfside Park.

Chappie, who currently represents Anna Maria Island and other parts of western Manatee on the county commission, is a former Bradenton Beach mayor and commissioner and longtime resident.

Chappie still regularly attends city commission meetings, including the Oct. 20 meeting at which commissioners voted unanimously to honor him with a park.

Dozens of friends and colleagues also attended, crowding the small commission chambers named for another former mayor, Katie Pierola, to celebrate the honor.

County Commissioners Carol Whitmore, a longtime friend, and Michael Gallen and Robin DiSabatino attended, as did county administrator Ed Hunzeker and many Bradenton Beach residents and businesspeople.

Chappie teared up when he arrived to the chambers to see the crowd. He fought tears when, about an hour into the meeting, he stepped to the podium to thank the commission for the honor.

“I’m kind of blown away here,” Chappie said. “I don’t know what to say.… I’m really honored that you’d do this.”

Mayor Bob Bartelt suggested naming the park for Chappie, who “has been a stalwart of Bradenton Beach and a pillar of our community for many years.

“He has served as mayor for six years and as a commissioner before that. He has also served on various boards throughout his history of Bradenton Beach dating back to the late 1970s.”

Chappie moved to Bradenton Beach about 38 years ago from Ohio, where he grew up. He first was elected to the city commission in 1997 and then to his first term as mayor in 2001. In that office, Chappie is credited with leading the revitalization of the Bridge Street commercial area.

The city acquired John R. Chappie Gulfside Park for $300,000 earlier this year. The acquisition of the four-lot property settled a longstanding legal dispute between the city and developers who had wanted to build housing on the site.

Chappie said he was humbled, and that “so many people are involved in making Bradenton Beach what it is today.”

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